For the first time a Pablo Picasso coloured crayon drawing will be auctioned in South Africa, and the piece will also be presented for a public viewing.

You know it’s a good day when you start it off by viewing an original Pablo Picasso piece. I attended the unveiling of Au Cirque by the iconic Spanish Cubist in Cape Town today, an intimate media event presented by Stephan Welz & Co Fine Art and Design Auctioneers.

This will be the first Pablo Picasso coloured crayon drawing to be auctioned in South Africa, with an estimated value of around R3,5 million, and it will go on the auction block at Stephan Welz & Co on Tuesday 7 June, 19:00, at Alphen Estate in Cape Town.

If you aren’t exactly a big spender, however, you’ll be happy to hear that they are also hosting public viewings in Cape Town and Johannesburg where you’ll be able to look at all the art works to be auctioned.

Au Cirque embodies the courtly performers of the Renaissance, resurrected by Picasso for a 20th century audience, with inspiration drawing back to his Spanish childhood and familiarity with Cervante’s Don Quixote. According to the team at Stephen Welz & Co, circus performers signified for Picasso the golden age of painting and allowed him to escape the limitations of contemporary subject matter.

Picasso’s rendering of this image was also his tribute to the work of two painters he adored throughout his life: Diego Velázquez, whose portraits of 17th century Spanish nobility and sword-wielding monarchs were sources of inspiration for the present work; and Dutch master, Rembrandt van Rijn, who is credited as being a key influence on Picasso’s art of this period. “It was through these reinterpretations and investigations of the Old Masters that Picasso reaffirmed his connection to some of the greatest painters in the history of art,” Jacqueline Roque, Picasso’s second wife and muse, was quoted saying. image004There is no doubt that this piece will spark quite a bit of excitement from international and local auctioneers. It was a Picasso that fetched the highest price ever paid for an artwork at an auction. His 1955 painting Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’), was sold for a smashing $179,4 million at a Christie’s auction in 2015.

 Au Cirque, which is coming up for sale in Cape Town, has been auctioned off before by Sothebys New York in 1990 for $154 000, and in 2006 it sold for $240 000 at another Sothebys Impressionist sale in New York. The roots of the piece can be traced back to Picasso’s Paris dealer, Galerie Louise Leiris, from where it made its way across the Atlantic to New York where it was sold to a prominent collector by the Saidenberg Gallery.

Make sure you pop in to take a look at the piece before it is shipped off to some private living room.

Public Viewing

The Pre-auction viewing is open to the public in Johannesburg at Stephan Welz & Co. Studio in Nelson Mandela Square from 26 – 28 May, 10:00 – 17:00. Au Cirque will then be open to the public for viewing in Cape Town at The Great Cellar, Alphen Estate, Constantia from 1 – 5 June, 10:00 – 17:00.



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